Metropolis Me-Time: 10 Best Places For Eating Alone in Tokyo

By Ryan Noble
Updated: April 15, 2024

If you’re taking a solo trip to Japan, or even find yourself wanting to explore a different area to your travel companions, you might find yourself contemplating the idea of eating alone. 

To some, this is no big deal, but to others, it’s a terrifying ordeal and something to be avoided at all costs for fear of looking weird or lonely. Either way, you’ll likely have one question: Where can I eat alone in Japan?

There isn’t quite the same stigma around eating alone here. With the number of single-person households on the rise, and the need for quick eats during work hours — especially for the well-known “salarymen” — many restaurants offer seats for one, some offering privacy, others offering a chance to make new friends in a communal space.

So, get ready, you’re about to go solo dining in Tokyo!

10 great places for eating alone in Japan

1. Ichiran Ramen

Empty stalls at Ichiran Ramen, a perfect spot for solo diners.

On any list for eating alone in Japan, you can be sure Ichiran Ramen is going to make an appearance. This ramen restaurant is truly the introvert’s dream, featuring private booths with partitions that create a barrier between you and the people eating on either side of you. 

In fact, you don’t have to speak to the people who work there, as there’s a curtain separating you from the kitchen. Once your ramen has been passed through, you don’t need to worry about any further distractions, giving you time, space, and privacy to savor and slurp your noodles.

You’ll even order your chosen ramen using a ticket vending machine near the entrance and fill out a little sheet for your preferred ingredients and toppings (available in Japanese and English), meaning you may enjoy your ramen without ever needing to say a word!

2. Ramen Break Beats

The counter seating at Ramen Break Beats, where two chefs can be seen cooking in the kitchen.

Eating alone in Tokyo but hoping to make new friends? Ramen Break Beats in Meguro might be the place for you, as head chef Yanase Takuro is known for loving a good chat with his diners. Well, when you run a Michelin Bib Gourmand ramen restaurant in Tokyo and have a love of DJ-ing, you’ve likely got a few stories worth sharing!

Using a “yobi-modoshi” style boil, in which the broth is kept perpetually boiling and soaks up all the flavors of previous broths, you’ll not only get to know a new Kyushu-born ramen technique, but perhaps one of the coolest ramen chefs in Japan.

3. XEX ATAGO GREEN HILLS / tempura & sushi An

Counter seating at XEX ATAGO GREEN HILLS, showing grey dining chairs surrounding a square cooking area.

Just because you’re solo dining doesn’t mean you need to be hidden away in the backstreets of Tokyo. Treat yourself to sweeping views of the city from the 42nd floor of the Green Hills MORI Tower and enjoy premium multi-course kaiseki menus of sushi, tempura, and Kobe beef at XEX ATAGO GREEN HILLS.

Also, if you book one of the restaurant’s counter seats, you’ll get a true kappo dining experience, removing all barriers between you and Iron Chef, Morimoto Masaharu, or his hand-selected chefs. 

See each dish come to life in front of your eyes — if you can tear yourself away from the unmatched views of Tokyo Tower.

4. Uogashi Standing Sushi Bar

A serving of sushi at Uogashi Standing Sushi Bar, including salmon, prawn, and more Edomae sushi,

Looking for less of a sit-down meal and more of an in-and-out experience? Let us show you the way to Uogashi Nihonichi, a standing sushi bar in Minato that’s both affordable and generous with their portions of Edomae sushi.

As it’s only a small sushi restaurant, this is one spot that favors solo diners, allowing you to squeeze in for a quick, delicious lunch of fatty tuna, meaty prawns, fresh squid and more. 

So that you don’t embarrass yourself in front of any potential new friends, make sure you brush up on the different types of sushi you might find!

5. Gyukatsu Motomura

A set meal at Gyukatsu Motomura, including a bowl of rice, miso soup, wagyu beef cutlet and shredded cabbage.

With 11 stores in Tokyo (and over 20 stores nationwide), Gyukatsu Motomura is famous for its teishoku set meals, somehow managing to dish up Japan’s prized wagyu beef cutlets alongside rice, soup, shredded cabbage, pickles and a variety of sauces for around ¥1,300. 

No wonder there are often long queues outside each store, everyone hoping for their turn to enjoy this deep-fried, marbled delicacy. But here’s the part where eating alone might even become your secret weapon; being seated as a single diner is often quicker than as a group, and since each table has its own grill for cooking the meat to your preference you’ll get to create the exact wagyu experience that you want. 

6. Yakiniku Like

Featured in our video of where to eat alone in Tokyo, we had to include Yakiniku Like, a yakiniku grilled meat restaurant that’s been specifically designed for Japan’s solo diners.

You’ll get your own private booth, perfectly set up for personalized grilling. After selecting your chosen set via a tablet, you’ll collect your tray from the kitchen window before slotting it into the satisfyingly designed space at your table.

Then, you’re good to go! Grill your meat on the solo-sized grill and use any of the dipping sauces for a comfortable, meat-filled experience. With spots all over Tokyo, you’ll never have to go far if you feel like eating yakiniku by yourself in the city.

7. Shabu Shabu Retasu

Shizuka dunking slices of meat in a boiling broth at Shabu Shabu Retasu.

Shabu Shabu Retasu also makes an appearance in Shizuka’s solo dining video, as potentially one of the rarest chances to eat shabu shabu (Japanese hot pot) alone! 

You’ll have your own pop of bubbling broth, in which you can cook your selection of meats, noodles, and vegetables, along with an area of various sauces for an unlimited combination of flavors. 

Many of the meat sets are also tabehoudai (all you can eat), meaning you won’t leave hungry, and you certainly won’t have time to feel lonely!

8. Falo

The communal dining area of Falo, with rectangular seating area surrounding a central kitchen.

Falo, meaning “bonfire in Italian,” is a unique Michelin Bib Gourmand Italian restaurant in Tokyo’s Daikanyama area that will blur the line between solo dining and communal dining. Actually, that’s the entire concept of the restaurant, featuring an open-style kitchen and a charcoal grill at its center for an atmosphere that makes people want to connect while eating.

This may be ideal for more extroverted travelers eating alone in Tokyo, as you’ll get to enjoy all the perks of dining alone while still making good conversation. 

9. Japanese fast-food chains 

The sign of Mos Burger, with the M logo and MOS BURGER set against a sign of bright green.

You may not want to eat fast food throughout your solo trip around Japan, but for a quick lunch or dinner — or as a first step into the world of eating alone — fast food restaurants can be ideal.

For starters, you may not consider a fast food restaurant to be quite as scary as a “proper” restaurant, and even if you do… it’ll be over before you know it! 

You won’t be short of options, either, with fast food restaurants for every kind of food you can think of:

  • Burgers: McDonald’s, Mos Burger, Burger King
  • Fried chicken: KFC
  • Japanese gyudon (beef over rice): Yoshinoya, Matsuya, Sukiya
  • Steaks: Pepper Lunch

Plus, as digital kiosks become more popular, you’ll be able to order and pay without ever talking to another person, perfect for those low-energy days of quiet exploration.

10. Family Restaurants

The entrance to a Gusto, showing Gusto logo, opening times, and logo.

When you hear the word “family” in “family restaurant,” your mind may jump to tables filled with lively families and screaming children, but you’d (mostly) be wrong!

Along with extensive, affordable menus that often include limited-edition seasonal dishes and flavors, restaurants within this category are casual eateries where you’ll often be able to order via a tablet from your seat. 

Then, your food will be delivered to your table by an employee — or by a little robot, if you’re lucky! — and you won’t have to lift a finger (or say a word). Similar to fast food restaurants, there’s a famiresu (family restaurant) for every taste and occasion:

  • Italian: Saezeriya
  • American: Denny’s
  • Chinese: Bamiyan
  • Shabu shabu (hot pot): Shabu Leaf
  • Japanese teishoku (set meals): Yumean
  • Steak: Steak Gusto
  • Hawaiian: La Ohana
  • If you want a little of everything: Gusto

For example, take a look through the Skylark Group’s list of brands and you’ll find a family restaurant for anything you’re craving.

How to get over your fear of eating alone?

A man in a suit eating noodles. He looks slightly nervous.

1. Start small: If jumping straight into eating alone at a multi-course restaurant sounds like too much, go to a cafe and practice the art of dining alone by ordering a drink or small snack.

2. Bring a distraction: For some people, eating alone can make them feel on edge, like they’re being watched or judged for being by themselves. Distract yourself from those feelings with something you enjoy, like music, a podcast, or a book. Make the most of your me-time and you may find yourself starting to enjoy it!

3. Keep it casual: Like starting with a drink or smaller meal, the kind of place you choose can also make you feel more relaxed. Starting with a more casual restaurant, like a fast food or family restaurant will make you feel at one with the crowd, allowing you to blend in and calm down.

4. Dive straight in: For the brave solo diners amongst you, a tachinomi (standing bar) can be effective for getting over your fears. Often only large enough for a few drinkers or diners at a time, you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with locals and tourists alike, forcing you to get comfortable with striking up conversations — or at least responding to those who do — quickly. Think of it like exposure therapy for eating alone — if you can enter one of these intimate spaces alone, you can probably eat alone anywhere in the world.

5. Join one of our Tokyo cooking classes: Our cooking classes in Tokyo are also great for solo cooking experiences that open you up to new skills, cultures, and people. Depending on your chosen cooking class, you may either enjoy the focus of a 1-to-1 lesson or get to know others who have joined the same class. 

6. Join one of our Tokyo food tours: Another option is to get involved with one of our immersive food tours in Tokyo, ideal for getting to know all the secret bars and restaurants you may not have felt brave enough to enter alone. 

That way, you’re still making the most of your solo travel experience and finding new spots to eat alone along the way.

What to do when eating alone?

A person with blonde hair reading a book at a cafe while holding a white mug.

1. Listen to music: For that main character energy your solo dining might be missing, listen to your favorite band or throw on a moving instrumental as a backing track.

2. Listen to a podcast: The podcast boom isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so you’ll have unlimited options, from dramatic readings and educational podcasts to podcasts from your favorite celebrities and plenty of podcasts related to Japanese culture.

3. Plan your Japan trips: Use this time wisely to plan where you’re going next! For example, have you ticked off everything in our 7-day itinerary for Japan? If not, now’s the perfect chance.

4. Get some work done: Living your nomad dreams and remote working your way through Tokyo? Find a quiet cafe or restaurant with stable wifi, public outlets, and combine eating alone with getting things done.

5. Watch the world go by: Find a good spot by the window and simply watch the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. It’s one of the main perks of eating alone, according to many!

6. Make new friends: For solo diners on the extroverted side, pick places that are a bit livelier — like the aforementioned tachinomiya — and start a conversation with the people near you. At this rate, you won’t be eating alone for much longer!

Ready to try eating alone in Tokyo? While you’re at it, you may want to read our guide for solo travel in Japan, or start browsing our Tokyo cooking classes and unforgettable food tours.

Solo dining in Tokyo FAQs

A man eating alone at a cafe, facing the window. His bag is on the seat next to him.

Is Japan good for solo travel?

Japan is great for solo travel. Not only is it one of the safest countries in the world, ranking at #9 in the entire world in 2023, but there’s less of a stigma around traveling or eating alone in Japan — especially in Tokyo, where people are too busy getting to their next destination to worry about who’s slurping their ramen solo.

Is Japan safe for solo female travelers?

Absolutely. Along with the low rate of crime in the country, Japan also has quite a few areas of female-only access to make solo female travelers feel more comfortable.

These include women-only carriages on trains during peak travel hours, women-only floors in certain hotels, women-only bathrooms, and, of course, onsen hot springs that are usually split by gender, meaning you can soak in peace.

Take a look through our tips for solo travel in Japan for more information!

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Ryan Noble
Ryan’s love for Japan may have begun with Naruto — something he refuses to hide — but it only grew once he truly understood the beauty of this country’s language, culture, and people. He hopes to use that passion to bridge the gap between Japan and the rest of the world, shining the spotlight on its hidden gems and supporting the revitalization of rural regions.
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